10 Festive Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley VA for Christmas

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Christmas events in the Shenandoah Valley can be delightfully old fashioned, and yet also quite modern.

We’ve lived in Harrisonburg VA for several decades now, and we never get tired of exploring things to do for Christmas in the area.

From candlelight to LED Christmas lights, from horse-drawn carriages to camels, Christmas in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia seemingly has it all!

With its stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley is the perfect place to enjoy the holidays.

From Winchester to Lexington and throughout the Valley, you’ll find Christmas cheer spreading in the cities, small towns, and countryside.

Read on for our guide to the most festive places to celebrate Christmas in the Shenandoah Valley, from a live nativity and a Christmas parade to cut-your-own Christmas tree farms, caroling, and more!

READ MORE: 10 Great Places to Celebrate Christmas in Virginia


Shenandoah Valley VA Christmas Guide

  1. A Christmas Carol at the Blackfriars Playhouse
  2. Christmas Lantern Tour at the Frontier Culture Museum
  3. Garden Lights at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
  4. Harrisonburg Winter Wonderfest
  5. Light Up Woodstock
  6. Live Nativity at the Barn at Mill Creek
  7. A Lexington Christmas
  8. Ostlund Christmas Tree Farm & Holiday Market
  9. Santa’s Scenic Railway
  10. Stable Craft’s Old-Fashioned Christmas

READ MORE:  The 20 Best Places To See Christmas Lights in Virginia

Photo courtesy of Blackfriars Playhouse 

1. A Christmas Carol at the Blackfriars Playhouse

10 S Market St, Staunton, VA • (877) 682-4236

Official Website

One of our favorite Shenandoah Valley Christmas traditions, this raucous version of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol runs from Nov 30 to Dec 30, 2023 at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse.

The talented stage crew transforms the Staunton VA playhouse stage into a slice of Victorian London, where you can watch Ebenezer Scrooge’s dramatic Christmas Eve transformation.

Audiences young and old will be thrilled as the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future help warm Scrooge’s cold heart, with lots of humor along the way.

Come early to explore Historic Christmas town‘s main street shops and restaurants, which will all be decorated with cheery holiday flair.

Ticket prices range from $36 to $65, based on the day of the show and seating choice. Note that tickets tend to sell out fast, so be sure to purchase online well in advance.

READ MORE: The 10 Most Festive Christmas Towns in Virginia to Visit

Photo courtesy of the Frontier Culture Museum

2. Christmas Lantern Tour at the Frontier Culture Museum

1290 Richmond Ave, Staunton VA • (540) 332-7850

Official Website

Lantern Tours at the Frontier Culture Museum offer a taste of an old-fashioned Christmas, highlighting traditions from the Old World as well as the frontier era in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

The Frontier Culture Museum is the area’s largest outdoor museum, and the authentic farm homes and building of the Old and New Worlds come alive with skits performed by costumed historic interpreters.

Stories of English milkmaids, suitors courting young Klara in 1800s Germany, and Christmas in Staunton during the pre-Civil War era are told by the flickering lights of candles and lanterns.

These 2-hour tours are offered December 15-17 and 20-23. Tickets are limited and sell fast, so visit the museum’s website to save a spot for this unique Virginia Christmas experience. 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Staunton VA

Photo courtesy the Museum Of The Shenandoah Valley

3. Garden Lights at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

901 Amherst St, Winchester VA • (888) 556-5799

Official Website

The largest green space in Winchester VA, the Museum Of The Shenandoah Valley has 7 acres of lovely gardens for visitors to explore. 

Garden Lights” is a dramatic experience that transforms the impressive gardens into a dazzling display for the holidays.

With trees bathed in colorful lights, dancing laser beams, and a thousand blooming LED flowers, the dark Shenandoah Valley night is transformed into a glowing Winter wonderland.

This unique experience is available from Wednesday through Sunday, Nov 16-Dec 3. Tickets are $19 for adults and $6.50 for children ages 5-18, and are only available for advance purchase.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Charlottesville VA

Harrisonburg Christmas Parade, photo via Facebook

4. Harrisonburg Winter Wonderfest

Main Street, Harrisonburg VA • (540) 432-8922

Official Website

Our hometown of Harrisonburg VA gets into the holiday spirit on December 2, 2023 with the annual Winter Wonderfest celebration. 

Beginning at noon in Historic Downtown Harrisonburg, the family-friendly Winter event features photos with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, and even a Cookie Tour.

Craft beverage enthusiasts can try “Sip & Stroll,” a downtown sampling of beer, wine, and cocktails at participating breweries and cideries. Wristbands (available at multiple downtown locations) are only $3!

There’s also a Gingerbread House Competition, or you can hunt for the perfect gift while Christmas shopping in Harrisonburg.

This fun-filled day culminates with the Harrisonburg Christmas parade and a tree lighting ceremony in Court Square.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Harrisonburg VA & Rockingham County

Photo courtesy Light Up Woodstock VA 

5. Light Up Woodstock

Main Street, Woodstock VA • (540) 459-3621

Light Up Woodstock Info

If you’re hoping to celebrate a small town Christmas in Virginia, check out Light Up Woodstock in Woodstock VA.

This charming mountain town, known for its Revolutionary and Civil War history, offers a night of holiday cheer with caroling children, free cookies, and food from nearby restaurants and food trucks.

The Children’s Choir sings at 5:30PM, followed by a downtown parade through the Woodstock Christmas lights.

After the parade ends, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a Hallmark Christmas movie as you watch the tree lighting ceremony officiated by the Woodstock VA mayor.

Woodstock is a charming little town all year long, but at Christmas time the brightly lit streets make it one of our favorite places in Virginia to visit!

READ MORE: The 10 Best Virginia Mountain Towns to Visit

Live Nativity photo courtesy of Mill Creek Church of the Brethren

6. Live Nativity at the Barn at Mill Creek

8218 Port Republic Road, Port Republic VA • (540) 289-5084

Port Republic VA is home to a large barn where you’ll find a peaceful scene depicting the true meaning of Christmas.

Presented by the Mill Creek Church of the Brethren (an Anabaptist Peace Church, like the Mennonites) and the community, this live Nativity scene is offered on three Winter nights.

From 7 to 9PM on Dec 21-23, visitors can immerse themselves in the story of the birth of Jesus, with live characters and animals (including camels)!

This beautiful scene is enhanced with handmade period costumes, Christmas songs, and readings of the Christmas Story from the book of Luke.

Admission to view the manger scene is free. Visitors may park below the barn and walk up, or park at the church and take a shuttle to the barn.

READ MORE: 30 Facts About Mennonite History, Culture & Amish Connections

Lexington VA Christmas Parade photo by Shires

7. A Lexington Christmas

Main Street Lexington, Lexington VA • (540) 463-3777

Official Website

For a quintessential Shenandoah Valley Christmas experience, look no further than the historic town of Lexington VA.

From lampposts adorned with wreaths and big red bows to Lexington restaurants and shops resplendent with holiday cheer, this town REALLY knows how to do Christmas!

At 5:15PM on Nov 24, Santa and Mrs. Claus will board a a horse-drawn carriage to lead a processional down Main Street from Oak Grove Cemetery to the community tree lighting in Hopkins Green.

Named among the best Holiday Main Streets in Virginia, the small town also hosts the annual Lexington Christmas Parade, with a 2023 theme of “Home for the Holidays.”

The Christmas parade takes place on Dec 1 from 6-7PM, with floats, marching bands, and the Virginia Military Institute’s Cadets all helping to spread Christmas cheer. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Lexington VA & Natural Bridge VA

Photo courtesy Ostlund Christmas Tree Farm 

8. Ostlund Christmas Tree Farm & Holiday Market

6876 Kieffer Rd, Singers Glen VA • (540) 746-0302

Official Website

The Ostlund Christmas Tree Farm & Holiday Market gives families a chance to replicate a beloved childhood memory of cutting down the perfect Christmas tree

This family-owned farm in Singers Glen VA (about 9 miles northwest of Harrisonburg) has 15 acres of Christmas trees. Be sure to pick up a handsaw before heading up the hill to cut your own tree!

Afterwards, stop at their Heartland Christmas Market, a traditional German market. Shop for gifts while enjoying hot apple cider, an authentic German bratwurst food truck, a children’s holiday craft area, and live music.

The tots will love riding the Candy Cane Express barrel train while dad and mom try to fit the freshly cut Norway Spruce, Scotch Pine, or Douglas Fir into/onto the car.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Christmas Tree Farms in Virginia

Photo courtesy of Virginia  Scenic Railway

9. Santa’s Scenic Railway

1 Middlebrook Ave, Staunton, VA • (434) 391-9772

Official Website

From Nov 25 to Dec 22, the Virginia Scenic Railway combines two childhood favorites– trains and Santa Claus– for fun, festive holiday rides through the Shenandoah Valley.

Their Santa’s Scenic Railway excursions run every day but Mondays, offering train rides that last about 50 minutes.

These memorable Christmas train rides include a hot beverage, a sweet treat, and a special appearance by good old Saint Nick himself. 

In addition to the classic comforts of the train, passengers will get front row seats to some of the loveliest views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Santa’s Train tickets are $65 per person. Children under the age of two can ride for free, but note that they must be on the lap of a ticketed adult.

READ MORE: The 7 Best Train Rides for Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Photo courtesy Stable Craft Brewing in Waynesboro VA

Stable Craft’s Old-Fashioned Christmas

375 Madrid Rd, Waynesboro VA • (540) 490-2609

Official Website

Located near the town of Waynesboro VA, Stable Craft Brewing celebrates an old-fashioned farm Christmas on Saturday, Dec 2 from noon to 10PM.

With horse-drawn carriage rides, visits with Santa and his merry elves, newly released seasonal beers & ciders, and a jolly Christmas caroler, one of our favorite Virginia breweries serves up some serious Christmas magic.

Children can feed carrots to horses in the stables, while the grown-ups can opt to buy tickets for a fun, holiday-themed Murder Mystery Dinner.

Come for the holiday beers, mulled apple cider, and a farm-fresh menu.

If you’re not attending the Murder Mystery Dinner, you can also reserve a private heated igloo for a cozy Winter meal! –by Heather Taylor & Jon Weaver; lead image courtesy of Shenandoah Valley Tourism

Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

The universities brought Jon and Heather to Harrisonburg Virginia in the 1980s and the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley has kept them there to this day. Heather has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and 10 years of experience as an editor and technical writer for online training sites. After college, Jon worked several years at a weekly newspaper before joining his family business which he ran until retirement. Jon and Heather enjoy traveling and sharing their stories with others. Locally, they love exploring the towns and mountains of the Blue Ridge near their hometown of Harrisonburg VA.